Mentors and Mentees

Several experts claim that organization in the past had a very amateurish approach to mentoring. Given that the present business environment is full of opportunities and risks, organization today recognize that they need leaders and no just good managers. Good managers can optimize within set boundaries but leaders can reset these boundaries. Amongst the various intervention of developing leaders, mentoring is one of the most effective ways of passing the success DNA from own level of leadership to the next. Mentoring is focused on development and it is not evaluative in nature. So, it provides an excellent opportunity for leaders to focus on their development in a non-judgmental environment. We have three tiers of leaders, Tier 1,2, and 3. Tier 1 leaders are mentored by board members. In one case they have 51 Tier 1 leaders and 7 board members – so each board member mentors 7 Tier 1 leaders. Tier 2 leaders are mentored by Tier 1 leaders and Tier 3 leaders are mentored by Tier 2 leaders. They have 180 Tier 2 leaders and 550 Tier 3 leaders.

One program at Shoppers Stop Limited weaves different initiatives into a holistic career development program. This comprehensive career development program was christened and the ‘Baby kangaroo’ Program to denote the guidance mentoring hand holding and care with which the baby kangaroos are nurtured and groomed. So how does it work? This programs starts with the identification of potential candidates through a potential development center which assesses candidates on the competencies required to successfully develop into the role of departmental manager. The potential development center includes a series of tests to identify the right talent. The pool of baby kangaroo so identified are then taken through individualized developmental inputs focused on competencies that need to develop. The development plan would include projects and assignments handling a section independently as a department manager a retail certification program from City & Guilds, UK etc. all this is intended to equip with leadership skills technical skills and cross functional business understanding that is required to take up the role of a department manager. Baby Kangaroo who successfully completes the program and clear the subsequent confirmation process, at the end of program, are designated as department managers.

The name, ‘Mentor Me’ indicates that any MindTree Mind (read: employees) can be mentored and suggest that a mentor can be mentored too. They have two programs for mentoring one that focuses on the Behavior skills and the other that targets the area of technical skills. They also give their Minds flexibility to choose their mentoring style, frequency of meetings and the goal they wish to move towards under an umbrella program. It starts from the announcement stage seeking mentors and mentees for a specific program a training which is mandatory for Minds who participate in the behavioral programs, a matching process and then the engagement. It is reflective process and there is so much learning involved.

The mentor is an offline friend who provides opinion on establishing rapport, progress making etc. It is not perspective and brings out the best in both leading to higher levels of efficiency. A Mentor who guided a current V.P in the past guides him even today when the V.P gets stuck in a professional situation thus adding a lot of perspective around the situation he is in, leaving him value added. Recently a casual acquaintance turned out to become a good friendship with a senior gentleman from the automobile industry. He was at a career juncture where he wanted to make an industry shift and did not know the reason for this thought process. Over a 3 month period a mentor worked on his competency mapping and helped him arrive at the best possible career solution. Today he is in East Asia on a regional role with General Motors.

Helios & Matheson which has a mentoring program called BEST (B – believe in yourself, E-enhance your skills, S- strive for the gold, T-target the moon) narrates his experience being a mentee (the V.P – HR). This story runs 20 years backwards when he entered the corporate worlds. He was under a mentor who didn’t have much liking towards the human resources function for reasons known to him.